Earned or borrowed? How to gain an audience

In the content marketing game, rule No.1 is to make sure your content gets read by the right people.

By the time you finish reading this sentence, at least 57 new blog posts will be added on WordPress. By the time you finish this article, more than 72 hours of videos will be uploaded on YouTube (1). By this time tomorrow, around 100 billion business emails will be sent around the world (2).

Herein lies a primary challenge for any company looking to tackle a content marketing strategy. The idea of content marketing works well in theory: develop quality content that gains the trust of potential clients, then use that trust to sell a product. But “build it and they will come” is a poor mantra to use in today’s oversaturated media environment. We’ve seen countless companies invest time and energy in creating quality content, just to have it sit there in cyberspace, with the faith that the quality of their content will be enough to attract the right audience.

Creating quality content is only one half of a content marketing strategy. The other – and some would argue more important – half is ensuring your content reaches and engages with an audience. And not just any audience. In the B2B space, you need to go for quality over quantity. Even if your content reaches millions of people, it’s all wasted effort if it isn’t reaching those who are likely to buy your product or service: your ideal client.

Businesses that choose to take the content marketing route have two options to attract a targeted audience – either earn their own audience, or borrow someone else’s. Before you choose your path, it’s important to consider the resources and advantages/disadvantages of either route.

Option 1 – Earning an Audience

Looking to develop your own audience? It’s certainly possible. Joe Pulizzi, Founder and CEO of the Content Marketing Institute writes: “Today’s availability of technology means that any business in any industry can develop an audience through consistent storytelling. No longer does the company with the biggest marketing budget win the most attention.”

The mistake many companies make in taking this advice is thinking that content marketing is a way to save on marketing dollars. In fact, to create your own audience is no cost-saving measure. To really earn an audience, Pulizzi recommends publishing at minimum on a weekly, if not daily, basis; and publish regular newsletters, web blog posts, videos and more. You’ll need to do this for months if not years, regularly investing in high quality content, before you’ll get enough of a following to monetise your efforts. Pulizzi recommends you appoint the following people to support your content marketing initiative: A Chief Content Officer, Managing Editor, Chief Listening Officer, Director of Audience, Channel Master, Chief Technologist, Creative Director, Influencer Relations, Freelancer and Agency Relations, and Content Curation Director.

Seem like a lot of work? It is.

Option 2 – Borrow an Audience

For companies without large amounts of resources to spend on a content production team, partnering up with a reputable B2B publication is a great solution. B2B publications have spent years engaging with their targeted audience. They have full-time staffs of editors, journalists, designers and web developers delivering quality content on a daily basis. By focusing year after year on the same industries, B2B publications and their digital assets are the most highly targeted channels available to most industries. Furthermore, by partnering with a B2B publication, companies benefit from the trust that those resources have built up over the years.

Companies on almost any level should look to negotiate content as part of their marketing package. Whether it is a news item, company feature, or regular column, B2B publications are well placed to support their advertisers. We like to call B2B journalists the original content marketers, as they have a long history of working with commercial partners to include them in the editorial mix.


(1) QMEE Infographs

(2) Radicati Group, Email Statistics Report 2013-2017